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August 9, 2022

Homily Two for the Eighth Sunday of Matthew (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on July 21/August 3, 1952)

Today you heard in the Gospel reading about one of the greatest miracles created by our Lord and God Jesus Christ - concerning the feeding of a multitude, a multitude of people with five loaves of bread and two fish: five thousand men alone, not counting women and children.

You know about the countless miracles that our Lord Jesus Christ did: you know about walking on the waters of Lake Gennesaret, about the calming of a storm by His word on this lake, you know about the resurrection of the dead, about the return of sight to the unfortunate blind and about many other miracles.

But not only the Lord Jesus Christ worked miracles, many Saints also worked them, and especially before an unusual multitude and with extraordinary power the holy prophet Elijah worked miracles, whose memory we celebrated only yesterday.

Why, why were miracles needed both in the earthly activity of the Lord Jesus and in the lives of His Saints?

Miracles occupied an extremely large place in the activities of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He accomplished our salvation first of all and most of all by His honorable cross, but to a great extent also by His teaching, a teaching such as the world has never heard, a teaching the like of which has never been in the world.

And the miracles of Christ were needed also because with great power they affirmed and confirmed everything that came from the immaculate lips of the Savior.

Miracles produced an enormous, irresistible influence on their witnesses, and for the sake of the miracles of Christ, for the sake of the miracles of the holy apostles, which were also very numerous, hundreds and thousands turned to Christ.

Let us remember the holy martyrs, whom we know about from their lives, undoubted lives, for their so-called martyrologies have come down to us. When they were judged, when they were subjected to terrible torment and execution, everything that was said at the trial, everything that happened, was recorded by the scribe, and these protocol notes, called martyrologies of the saints, have come down to us in large numbers.

Therefore, it is impossible to suspect that these were introduced by the Christians themselves, that the Christians invented the miracles that took place during the suffering and death of the martyrs, for this is written down, written down by Roman scribes and is not subject to any doubt.

The Lord God sustained many martyrs miraculously. When they were thrown into a red-hot furnace, they did not burn there, the flame suddenly parted and did not touch them. It also happened that the flame burst out like a powerful jet and burned the executioners. When they handed over the holy martyrs to be torn to pieces by wild and hungry beasts, the beasts did not touch them, but lay down at their feet and licked them.

These marvelous miracles - I have mentioned only a few - converted dozens and hundreds of pagans, spectators of the miracles, to faith in Christ. The tormentors themselves, the rulers of Rome, sometimes gave up, declared themselves Christians and also became martyrs. So great is the action of miracles.

And people who do not believe, people who even believe in their own way - Protestants and sectarians - do not believe in miracles, they try their best to explain miracles by the natural forces of nature. But these explanations of theirs are so outrageously strained, false, so useless that they cannot refute miracles.

Unbelieving scientists dispute miracles on the grounds that certain laws, physical laws, operate in the world, and these laws cannot be changed and violated. And because miracles are a violation, a change in laws, therefore, there can be no miracles.

What shall we say to these wise men of this world? How can we justify our complete, unconditional faith in miracles - the miracles not only of Christ, but also the miracles of great Saints?

Yes, of course, certain physical laws operate in the world, and we are well aware of this. But tell me, is there only the physical world, the material world? Isn't there a huge, much larger spiritual world inhabited by incorporeal spirits?

So, aren't there certain laws in this spiritual world?

If laws are necessary in the physical world, are they not necessary in the spiritual world? Of course, undoubtedly, the spiritual world must have its own laws, laws that are not at all the same as the laws of our perishable, temporal world, eternal laws, laws of a higher order.

And in this world, of course, there are spiritual forces that are completely unknown to us.

And these forces, these laws were manifested more than once before the eyes of mankind, when the Lord Jesus worked His miracles, when His great Saints worked miracles.

Tell me, when He was transfigured on Mount Tabor, didn’t a light shine on Him then, unknown to anyone on earth? All His body, His garments then shone with an inexpressible light that had never shone on earth before.

And when the holy prophet Elijah entered into a dispute with the priests of Baal about whose God is true, challenged them to a competition, invited them to build an altar, slaughter a calf and pray to their Baal so that fire would fall from heaven and burn their sacrifice; and he himself also built an altar of large stones, prepared firewood, laid a calf on them and ordered twelve buckets of water to be poured over the sacrifice, and the stones of the altar, so that it was filled with water - then, after the fruitless prayer of the priests of Baal, Elijah called to his God - and fire that fell from heaven burned his sacrifice. This fire burned not only the sacrifice and the wood, it also burned all the stones of the altar, it consumed the water in the ditch.

Can any earthly fire burn stones? No never. It was a special fire, heavenly fire, a fire of a very special power and special action.

Remember that when a bleeding woman in a crowd of people touched the garment of Christ, believing that she would receive healing, Christ stopped and asked: “Who touched Me?” This question surprised the disciples, for the people pressed Him from all sides, but He said: "Someone touched Me, for I felt the power that came from Me."

What kind of power, if not of the highest spiritual order, unknown to people, did Jesus feel?

So, in the miracles of Elijah, in the miracles of Jesus Himself, as well as in the miracles of many others, spiritual forces, higher forces, which are unknown in the material world, acted - special forces, Divine forces.

What then is surprising in the fact that miracles are performed?

What is surprising that the Lord walked on the waters of Lake Gennesaret; that the Venerable Mary of Egypt crossed the Jordan; is it any wonder that our Seraphim of Sarov, as many have seen, walked through the air without touching the ground?

Is it any wonder that a spiritual force, a huge, mighty force, could exceed the force of gravity of the body, and the body became so light that it could walk on water?

Let no one doubt that the miracles of Christ and the miracles of the Saints were genuine, true miracles. Let none of you be embarrassed by the mockery of unbelievers at miracles.

Believe in the miracles that the Lord Jesus Christ did.

Believe in the miracles of His apostles and saints.

Believe that miracles continue to this day, as many Christians know from their own experience.

Believe that in the life of all those who fulfill the commandments of Christ, there is undoubtedly a clear communion with God.

And this faith of yours in miracles will strengthen your faith in God with the same force as it strengthened the ancient spectators of the miracles of Christ.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.